Slow death by climate change for Kenya
The entire way of life of millions of poor Kenyan livestock herders is now under threat due to climate change, a new report from Christian Aid warns today (Sunday 12 November).
This fresh evidence of how poor people are on the receiving end of global warming comes on the eve of vital United Nations climate talks in Nairobi this week, underscoring the urgency with which global politicians must now act to stem damaging greenhouse gas emissions.
World leaders, including UK Environment Secretary David Miliband, are meeting in the Kenyan capital from November 15 to 17 for high-level talks aimed at finding ways of reducing emissions. It is the first time a United Nations climate conference has been held in Africa and it is hoped that this will focus minds on the need to help vulnerable communities adapt to the rapidly changing climate.
The Christian Aid report Life on the Edge of Climate Change: The Plight of Pastoralists in Northern Kenya reveals that droughts have increased in number fourfold in the past 25 years. So many animals have died that pastoralist families no longer have the means to support themselves. Already, half a million herders have been forced to settle around towns and villages ñ abandoning their centuries old way of life and dependent on aid handouts for survival.
ìIt is a cruel irony that these people ñ who have done so little to contribute to climate change -- could become the worldís ëclimate change canaryí, as their traditional way of life is extinguished by global warming,î said Andrew Pendleton, Christian Aidís senior climate change analyst in Nairobi.
"Their plight illustrates what will happen to countless million other poor people unless industrialised countries world start reversing emissions immediately. If the rich world does not cut back, how can it expect others to do so? At the same time developed countries must commit to a huge programme of investment to enable vulnerable people like the pastoralists cope with climate change," he said.
ìGovernments and non-governmental organisations have hugely underestimated the seriousness of the threat facing people living on marginal lands like northern Kenya. Piecemeal measures are no longer enough to tackle the profound challenges posed by climate change. Alternative livelihoods must be developed to allow these people to support themselves instead of subsisting on handouts,î said Mr Pendleton.